Let’s face it, data caps and overages are on most of our minds because the cost of going over can be expensive. Paying for too much data can also mean that you’re throwing money away. Knowing how much you use can help you save money and put those worries at ease. Google has included a tool to track your data usage and even put in a cap to prevent you from going over and I suspect many people aren’t aware it exists.
Many of us are familiar with the tools our carrier provides us to track data. They’re all different and many lack control over how our data is used. I’m not sure if any tools the carrier provides offers an option to shut off your data if it reaches a certain limit — that would eat into their profits if they did. Google’s tool is easy to access and easy to use, providing you with all of the information you need to adjust your habits and save money.
To access Google’s data monitoring tools, follow the steps below:
- Enter the phone or tablet’s settings
- Tap on Data Usage
Please note that each manufacturer may bury this section in other menu options, but how it functions should remain the same.
In the Data Usage menu, the first option is to enable cellular data or disable it. This gives you control over when data is used and may be ideal to turn off when traveling outside the country to prevent data roaming charges.
The second option is to set a limit for data usage. Turning this on adds another line to the graph below this option. Dragging this line up or down will become your data usage limit. Once this limit is reached, your phone or tablet will no longer connect to cellular data, preventing overage charges.
Below this option is a date range followed by a number. This displays how much data has been used within this date range. You can tap on the date and see previous months’ usage so you can track how your usage might have changed month to month.
Next is a graph. This graph may show one or two horizontal lines, depending on whether or not you turned on the setting to set a cellular data limit. One line is your data limit, the other is set to determine when to warn you about coming close to reaching that limit. Both lines can be dragged up or down, giving you control over when your device will cut you off or warn you about your limit.
Under the graph, you will notice a list of apps followed by numbers. This breaks down how much data has been used per app during the month displayed. Knowing which apps are using the most data will help you determine how you can change your habits to reduce data usage or spot apps that might be abusing your data.
Another noteworthy option is hidden in a button on the top right corner of this menu. By tapping on the button showing 3 vertical dots, more options will appear. The top option, Restrict background data, can further help reduce data usage. By turning this on, you restrict most, if not all, of your apps to only use data when connected to WiFi. Your apps should work when you use them manually, whether or not you’re connected to WiFi or cellular data, but this prevents them from using data without your knowledge. This can impact things such as receiving email, social media notifications, and other similar functions unless WiFi is connected.